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First Posted May 20, 2008
Jul 21, 2010

Bark Eating

by Debora Johnson

Update: Wood Chewing in Horses

Do you have a horse who likes to strip the bark off your trees? There are many reasons that a horse may be stripping the bark off of your trees.

  • Boredom
  • Parasites
  • Likes the taste of the bark
  • Endorphin hit/like cribbers
  • Habit
  • Learned behavior from another horse
  • Lacking in some mineral
  • Lack of roughage or cellulose
  • Hunger

Horses are grazing and herd animals. They like to be together and graze throughout the day. This is not always possible as most people with horses do not have that much land for turnout. If your horse is in a stall most of the time that need cannot be met in a natural way. Make sure that a good quality hay is being fed. Add supplements to the grain being fed. Make sure that there is a salt and mineral block that is available to the horses. These can be purchased at stores such as Southern States. Also, adding a toy in the stall like a hanging toy apple or some such object made for that purpose, can reduce boredom. Roughage is really important to a horse. It makes the digestive tract work efficiently. It also provides the horse with a constant amount of chewing pleasure which makes for an emotionally well-adjusted horse.

Prevailing wisdom is to put board fence around the trees so that the horses cannot get to the bark. It is not recommended that wire or nylon be used as the horses can hurt their eyes on the wire and nylon can be eaten and cause colic. Stripping bark will usually kill your trees eventually. Be certain to know if your trees are poisonous to horses. Many trees are poisonous to horses. The following websites will give you a good idea of which trees are poisonous to horses: Colorado State University/Trees Poisonous to Horses and Equisearch/Poisonous Trees to Horses

Of course, always check with you vet on any matter which is a concern. New research and studies are coming out all the time. Also, new products are being made available. Products for bark eating might be among them.


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